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Barber’s Itch: A Form Of Lice Or Infection?



A 53 years old man was worried and ashamed of his face, it has become an eyes sore of late, his wife called it a skin infection. A friend said its a lice. His academic friend called it a barber’s itch’, another health worker called it a ringworm, another fellow believed it’s a communicable infection acquired from the barber’s shop. He now decided to seek a help from a medical practioner, after acquiring a new electrical barbing clipper.

Inside the consulting office;

Man:-Doctor, good day

Doctor:-Good day sir, welcome.

Man:-Doc, I want to show you my cheeks (he said coming closer for the doctor to have a good look at the jaw).”They said it’s a ‘barber’s itch’, a form of a lice, it also itches terribly “he said.

The doctor took his time to examine it carefully.

What is known as a ‘barber’s itch’ is not a form of lice, but is actually beard ringworm. This well-known fungal infection can cause itching and swelling on the beard area of the face and neck.

Ringworms are not caused by worms; they are caused by one or several fungi infections that appear on the surface of the skin. Ringworm can affect different areas of the body such as face, the beard, the groin area or the scalps and feet.

Ringworms are contagious. This type of fungi disease can be contracted and passed on from animals to humans and vice versa, it is the best to avoid any physical contact with an animal who may seem to be infected with this disease as there is more than a 50% chance than a person living with an animal who has the disease will in fact get ringworms. A rash or hardened crusting of the skin could be a sign of a ringworm disease.

The barber shop has always been a safe haven for guys who want to be groomed. But it’s also a nasty undercover germ factory. One get the barber to freshen up not walk away with a gross new infection. Local barber shop can still harbor some pretty gross things like a barber’s itch’.


This is a fungal infection that is sometimes termed, beard ringworm. It usually affects the bearded area of the face, including the Chin, neck and upper lip.

This infection is also know as ‘tinea barbae’,it get its name from how the condition used to be spread during the age of “Sweeney Tudd barber shops”. Barber’s would frequently use the same razor for each of their customers, leading to rampant outbreaks of the fungal infection during that time. It most commonly occurs in adult male more than any. The disease can also be contacted from animals making people who work with animals, Vets ,farmers etc more likely to catch the infection.

The symptoms of barber’s itch are:-

(1) Hair loss.

(2) Ringworm rashes.

(3) Itching.

(4) Pain.

(5) Dry, flaky skin.

(6) Inflammation.

(7) Blistering.

(8) Discoloration.



Barber’s itch is highly contagious and it can spread from person to person through direct or indirect contact with an affected party, one’s lifestyle, diet, and even health conditions can make one vulnerable and susceptible to catching the affliction, example are;

*Poor nutrition:-unhealthy diet increases susceptibility.

*Stress:-exhaustion lowers immune systems.

*Weak immune system:-like, HIV persons.

*Poor hygiene:-bathing and drying correctly prevent it spread.

*Direct contact with infected animals or person.

*Indirect contact:-by sharing objects like, razors, face clothes or clothing.

*Soil:-they live on soil, farmers who are not wearing protective clothing, are exposed to infection.



*Clerking from a doctor, revealing interactions with farm animal and lifestyle experience.

*Skin scrapping.



See the doctor; he can prescribe a topical antifungal, in a serious cases oral antifungal medication. Others are,

Folliculitis:-This is the inflammation of the hair follicles, this look like tiny white pustules (filled with pus), it’s usually caused by bacteria. Spread through unsterilized instruments.

Tinea capitis-This is a fungal infection of the scalp that can take the shape of ringworm (red patch with scale around the perimeter) it can also look like a flaky itching patch and can lead to permanent scarring and hair loss, it’s spread through combs or towels.

Impetigo:-Is a bacteria infection that is caused mainly by Staphylococcus or Streptococcus and commoner among younger children and one develop yellow or honey colored crusts on their skin, it is highly contagious and treatment is required, so see a doctor. Spread via skin to skin contact, clothing or towel.

Lice:-It is possible to acquire lice from a comb or other shaving instruments, like razor with someone who has lice and it is common in the scalp. It can also occur in the beard.

Tetanus:-When one think of tetanus, one will probably think about stepping on a rusty nail. But the same can happen if one is pricked with rusted barber’s tools (tetanus is a bacterial infection that usually occurs after breaks in the skin).It comes from the soil but can also be acquired from unclean rusted instruments.


– Kingsley wrote in from Nyanya General Hospital.




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